Merry day-after-Christmas! I hope you all had wonderful ones, if you’re the celebrating type. I myself have been “relaxing” (as much as one can relax with an excitable elf-sized kid running around), eating way too much fudge, and making gingerbread houses, and enjoying other seasonal nonsense.
I made these pannetone bread puddings a few weeks ago and originally intended to post them earlier in the week, as a Christmas dessert option. Well, time got away from me, one thing led to another (cough*cookie coma*cough) and I didn’t get around to posting until today. How lame of me, right?
But! Maybe this is actually a good thing—last year after Christmas I was able to score some loaves of pannetone for a sweet clearance price, so if you keep your eyes open for cheap pannetone this could be one of those “desserts on a dime” that Rachel Ray is always talking about. [I think. I actually hate cooking shows, but I like to pretend I’m hip to food tv.]
And what is this pannetone bread pudding I’m yammering on about? It starts with slices of pannetone, a soft, sweet, spiced bread studded with bits of dried fruit. They’re cubed and toasted until golden, tossed with a quick custard made from eggnog, and then baked until crispy and crackling on top, and soft and moist on the inside. Oh, and did I mention the big handful of chocolate chunks I added? Because: of course.
So the bread pudding is good on its own, but I had to up the seasonal factor by adding an eggnog crème anglaise sauce on the side. Crème anglaise is basically unchurned ice cream, so if you imagine the love child of egg nog and melted cinnamon- and nutmeg-spiked ice cream, you’re getting close. And if you’re thinking that it sounds amazing on top of crunchy-yet-gooey pannetone bread pudding, you’re so right.
I made these in smaller ramekins, because I love the look of individual desserts, but it could easily be made in a 9×13 pan and scooped into bowls or on plates to serve. Christmas may be over, but Cheap Pannetone Season is just beginning. And hey, isn’t there a big party day in about a week? Nothing says “happy new year!” like a big bowl o’ bread pudding with eggnog sauce! True story.
- 1½ lbs pannetone
- 9 whole eggs
- 2 cups eggnog, not light variety (can substitute whole milk instead)
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Zest of 1 orange
- Cut the pannetone into small 1-inch cubes and place it on two baking sheets. Toast it in a 350 F oven for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3 or 4 minutes so that it doesn’t burn. The bread should start to take on a golden color, but shouldn’t be dark and hard—you don’t want to make croutons! Let the bread cool completely.
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium-low speed with the whisk attachment. Once the eggs are well-mixed, add all of the remaining bread pudding ingredients.
- Put the toasted bread cubes into a large bowl, then pour the bread pudding liquid over the top. Toss the bread with your hands, then let the bread sit and soak up the liquid. As it sits, periodically toss the cubes with your hands to make sure they get moistened equally. Let the bread sit for 30-45 minutes, until it has absorbed most of the liquid and the pieces are very soft, but still hold their shape.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray six square ramekins (or one 9×13-inch pan) with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the soft bread cubes between the ramekins, and pour any remaining liquid on top.
- Bake the ramekins at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, until the bread puddings are puffed, crunchy and browned on top, and barely jiggle when you tap them. If you’re using a 9×13 pan, bake it for 20 minutes, then cover the top with a loose layer of foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the bread pudding from the oven and let it cool until it’s warm but not hot. Serve warm or at room temperature with a generous side of warm Eggnog Crème Anglaise. The bread pudding can be made several days in advance and stored, well-wrapped in cling wrap, in the refrigerator.
- 2 cups eggnog, not “light” variety
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- Pour the eggnog into a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until well-mixed.
- Bring the eggnog to a simmer, with bubbles along the side of the pan, but don’t let it boil. Start whisking the egg yolks and pour a little of the hot eggnog into the yolks, whisking all the while. Continue to whisk and pour in hot eggnog until you’ve poured in about a quarter of the liquid. Then, begin whisking the eggnog in the pan, and pour the yolk mixture into the pan as you whisk. This process is called tempering, and it prevents the hot eggnog from cooking the egg yolks.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook it, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Don’t let it boil! Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the crème anglaise through a wire mesh strainer into a bowl or container. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and whisk well.
- Press a layer of cling wrap on top of the crème anglaise, and chill it until you’re ready to use it. Crème anglaise can be made several days ahead of time and kept, well-sealed, in the refrigerator.
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